When I talked to people about this journey I was about to embark upon, it was uncanny how many people referred to it as my version of Eat, Pray, Love. I adored the sentiment because Elizabeth Gilbert’s book is still one of my favorites, an entire decade after it was published. But the reference made me wonder to myself the ways in which my journey is similar and different.
One of the most obvious parallels is that Gilbert and I are both members of the divorcee club. We were both doing the thing in life at the exact moment that you were supposed to be doing it; married, building a home, talking about kids, supporting our partners (in many ways). And the unhappiness seemed to creep in like a stranger in the night, the footprints so soft that they went undetected, until we both found ourselves at a cross roads, with neither route looking particularly appealing, but a decision begging to be made nonetheless.
For both Gilbert and I, a thirst to wander was ignited within each of us. Her desperation to feast on beautiful sights and delicious food, my desperation to find the voice of the girl within that used to marvel at the world. And for each of us, the necessity to travel this path alone.
There are dozens of synonyms for this word. Unattended, solo, forlorn. Alone has the perfect sentiment for me in this journey thus far. It’s cold, melancholic, and has an ache to it. All the things that have rushed in for Gilbert and I during our loneliest nights. But I think I can safely assume that she aspired to turn that lonesomeness into something that is warm, comforting, and safe, but is found within ourselves rather than in a place or in a person.
Gilbert gave herself a year split between three places. For her, that was the necessary recipe with just the right portions to build the life she wanted to lead. For me, I have embarked on this journey without any such plan. I want to wander until I find all that I’ve been searching for within my own bones and within my own heart beats. There is a terrifying yet exquisite freedom within this non plan of mine that I am learning to embrace (and not absolutely fight against) minute by minute.
When it comes down to it, each of us is unique because of the wounds we’ve endured and the beautiful pattern that our scars have created. At some point or another, each of us finds ourselves on our knees, wondering what went wrong and what we’re supposed to do to make it right. For Gilbert, it was traveling to Italy, India, and Indonesia for a year; eating, loving, and praying all along the way. For me, it’s traveling the world until I have filled all of my own emotional potholes with unbridled love and can sit with ease within myself.
Eat, Pray, Love, has given me inspiration to find my path, but I’ve created my own template. I now welcome inspiration in every single form it can take, because I’m really starting to see the splendor that it brings with it, if you can allow it.